Enhancing Team Dynamics

Building effective teams is the responsibility of all the members involved – that includes whomever is leading the team (e.g. manager or team lead) and everyone who has a role on the team. Individual team members need to be aware of the following actions and take responsibility for them:
– Maintaining behaviors that contribute to a workplace culture of respect
– Recognizing your style and that of others, and honoring the impact that these styles have on the team’s work.
– Honoring the diversity variables that impact teamwork
– Removing barriers to communications
– Establishing and adhering to team norms

Collectively the team needs to establish norms or ground rules under which it will operate. For example:
– How to handle interruptions and distractions such as members called out of meetings, answering calls, e-mails, messages, etc.
– How to handle assignments that can’t be completed – who needs to be notified and when, what to do when changes occur that impact the team’s project(s) or goals
– Decisions, more specifically, how will the team come to consensus and what are the fallback positions if consensus can’t be reached
– Maintaining confidentiality and how to handle breaches to confidentiality
– Establishing penalties when norms or ground rules are broken.

In establishing norms, consider the following. Our team will expect:
– Active participation by all team members
– Respect for all viewpoints and not discounting others’ views
– Willingness to cultivate a variety of options
– Commitment to deadlines

As a group, the team also needs to identify behaviors for high team performance. In doing so, be sure that the team is inclusive – valuing the contributions of all. Consider the following:
– In a team, what are some of the qualities, characteristics and actions that show that people count?
– What are some of the opportunities for growth and improvement in reaching your optimistic vision described above?

To avoid problems, managers or team leaders can look for the following and be prepared to take action to address any of these signs. Look for them often and address them early.

– Confusions about roles and responsibilities
– Weak commitment to the team’s goals
– Lack of clarity about team goals, objectives, and tasks
– Little attention paid to how we are working as a group
– Talking about problems away from, rather than at, team meetings
– Unresolved conflict between/among team members
– People working in isolation, having little contact with other team members
– Unequal participation in team problem-solving and decision-making sessions
– Lack of interaction and camaraderie among staff
– Lack of support for one another
– Intolerance of the views of other team members
– Gossiping and backbiting
– Jokes, remarks, and ridicule at other’s expense
– Frequent “us versus them” comments
– Lack of effective ways to deal with team obstacles and conflicts

To enhance performance, managers should
– Acknowledge small steps – it motivates people
– Set milestones along the way to achieving long-term goals
– Celebrate progress collectively – it recognizes everyone’s contributions
– Celebrate and offer acknowledgment in a timely manner
– Use symbols to celebrate success – something simple, yet visible – a card, a small memento, even candy or sweet treats
– Encourage team members to cheer each other on – it’s a sign that they recognize each other’s success

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